All That We Are (Ecumenical Sunday) John 1:29-42

The symbol for the United Church of Christ is more than a logo.  The symbol imparts the meaning not only of all that we are in the present day as a denomination, but all that we yearn to be in the future.

At the top of the symbol is a crown.  By the use of the crown, we remind ourselves that Christ is the ruler, the head of all, greater than any earthly power or authority.

Below the crown is a cross.  The cross reminds us of Christ’s suffering in solidarity with the pain of victims of violence in all times and places.  For many, the cross is a reminder of the redemptive power of life over death, and salvation over the powers of evil.

Below the cross is an orb divided into three parts, reminding us of Jesus’ command to go out into the world in all directions, witnessing to his life-giving power.

Encircling these symbols are the words “That They May All Be One.”  (John 17:21).  The words remind us of our history as a union of different Christian traditions.  And it calls us to activism in the present.  In the UCC it is our calling to engage in ecumenical relationships that seek to heal the broken unity of the Body of Christ.  And the words also call us to the future, to the time envisioned by Christ when “all may be one.”

“Ecumenical relations help us to learn from the spiritual traditions of other churches.  They help us to serve the world more effectively in God’s name.  They remind us that while we are proud of the diversity of the Protestant traditions that have joined in our united church, there is an even greater diversity in the Body of Christ that can make us whole.”*

Prayer for Ecumenical Sunday

Christ–Remind us again and again that we who share your name share a oneness that goes beyond doctrine or creed.  Give us wisdom, courage and curiosity to move into the world, ready to witness to the miracle of your work in our lives, even as we learn from our brothers and sisters in faith.  In your name we pray, Amen.

*Ecumenical and Interfaith Partners.  Accessed July 24, 2019.

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Possibilities Unfolding (Matthew 3:13-17)

The Reverend Karen Georgia Thompson, (recently elected) Associate General Minister of Global Engagement and Operations of the United Church of Christ, raised her prophetic and poetic voice addressing General Synod delegates (last June).  She shared a memory of a clock without hands she’d seen in Clujj-Naropa, Romania, which became for her an image of the contemporary church.  It looks useless, she noted, unable to perform its stated function of telling passers-by the time.  Yet is retained power and relevance.

“That clock in Clujj was a source of inspiration for me as a poet and a theologian,” she said.  “It reminded me of what the church is and is supposed to be.  That clock did not have the ability to tell time anymore, but I could tell from its location and the fact that it was still there that it pointed to a time when things were different.”

Thompson wove the theme of time throughout her address.  Memory of other times comes relatively easy to the church.  Old stories inspire us with the faith and courage of people who have gone before.  There is also a history we would prefer to forget, times when the church has been on the side of injustice.  Misunderstood history, anxiety over loss of numbers and resources, and the rise of fascist dogmas all diminish the church’s faithfulness and effectiveness.

She stressed the power of ecumenical partnerships for addressing these challenges.  As the UCC’s Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, she has seen these strengths first hand.  In an interview, she contrasted this vision with the one dominating domestic politics, obsessed with closing borders.” I think that’s a challenge to our theologies of love of neighbor and love of neighbor as self,” she said.  “We need to be something different.”

Thompson told the delegates:  “Yes, the world is changing.  Yes, our communities are changing, too.  Yes, the resources that are available for ministry and mission are shrinking.  None of these markers name or define the relevance of the church, the possibilities we have for ministry, and the services that can be provided in partnership with the communities we serve locally and globally.”

“The time we have is now,” she declared.  “The decisions we make are for today.  We are living on borrowed time with the commitment to change the world.”*

*Excerpted from an article by Anderson, Eric S. (June22, 2019) a Vision of Endless Possibilities for Changing the World.  Retrieved from

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

The Community Gathers to Worship the Living God

Centering Prayer:  O Lord, our God, whose light no darkness has overcome, shine now into all the shadowed places of our lives that, in your shining, we may see who we are to be, what we are to do, and where we are to go as we find ourselves in you.  We pray this through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, and the Light of the world.  Amen.

Sunday, January 19–worship, 10:30 a.m.; Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled:  “The Truth We Need to Tell”, and is based on John 1:29-42.  Special music is provided by Kathy Marburger who will sing, “It’s About the Cross” and “My Tribute”.  Piano/organ duets will be played by Barbara Plaugher and her daughter Mary Plaugher.  Please join us for an uplifting and musical worship service.  A time of fellowship in Oppermann Hall takes place following the worship service.

The Board of Christian Education will meet following the worship service.

Tuesday, January 21–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, January 22–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, January 23–Community dinner at the Senior Center, 6 p.m.

Thought for the Week:  “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.




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Fall Hours Begin September 8, 2019

Beginning September 8, 2019, and continuing until the first Sunday in June, 2020, Faith Formation classes will meet at 9:30 a.m., and worship starts at 10:30 a.m.

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  November 26, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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